Western Kentucky Hilltoppers @ Arkansas Razorbacks
11:00 AM on SEC Network
Senior Day on The Hill in Fayetteville
Former Razorback quarterback Ty Storey will make his return to Donald Reynolds Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville today, but this time he will not be under center for the Hogs. He will be starting under center for the visiting Western Kentucky Hilltoppers this time around. The Razorbacks are favored in this game with a 62.6% chance to win according to ESPN’s Football Power Index, but only favored by 1.5 points on the spread. This is a sign that the Hogs are struggling, and this game is a must win for Coach Chad Morris and staff to keep things from sinking on the Hill. With a fresh start under center for the Hogs, Jones gets the starting nod this week.
Storey played 10 games for the Hogs a season ago and started nine during the first year of the Chad Morris era. As a Junior for Arkansas, he completed 143 of 250 passing attempts for 1,584 yards with 11 touchdowns and 9 interceptions. At the end of last season, he decided to transfer out to Western Kentucky, as the Hogs finished the year 2-10 and 0-8 in SEC play.
“I’m sure Ty is excited about coming back into his home state and playing. Ty and I met with his family and we did not want Ty to leave” Morris said Monday. “But, Ty wanted to go to a place he wanted to go in and have an opportunity to be the starter and was going to look around and see what was best for him moving forward. He wants to coach. We had a lot of talks on that. We’re just excited for Ty, and he’s playing really well.” Morris stated in his preview press conference.
This season at Western Kentucky, he has completed 141 of his 202 attempts for 1,477 yards with 7 touchdowns and 5 interceptions. To start the year, Ty was not the starter for the Hilltoppers, it was Steven Duncan at quarterback. After Duncan suffered an injury in Week 3, Storey took over and went 4-0 in his first four starts.
Storey saw the writing on the wall when the Razorbacks decided to bring in graduate transfer Ben Hicks from SMU. In addition to Hicks, the Razorbacks also managed to bring Texas A&M transfer Nick Starkel to Fayetteville, but the graduate transfer route turned out just as bad for the hogs, ending up with redshirt-freshman John Stephen Jones getting the starting nod against the Hilltoppers. Jones has played well in relief duty for the Hogs in their last two games. Also, there has been word as well for playing time for Freshman KJ Jefferson, which Hog fans have been anticipating seeing this year.
With Jones under center, the Razorbacks look to turn their fortunes another direction. With no chance of a bowl this year, the team is still in it for the long haul. One of the best ways to end a season, would be to come out and finally get a win. This weekend is also one of the first weekends of hunting season, which will probably affect the overall attendance for the game Saturday morning, but trust in the Hog fans. It may not be a packed house, but the fans that will be there will be loud and proud, helping the Hogs to a victory. Jones on the season is 10 for 16 with 74 yards and 2 touchdowns on the season. Not a lot of playing time but when he has seen the field, he has been true and lead the Hogs to scoring drives. Jones will have running back Rakeem Boyd beside him throughout this game. Boyd has had a good but not exceptional season. 142 attempts for 820 yards, and he still has a chance to be a 1000-yard rusher for the Hogs. Whaley, who has 59 rushes for 254 yards, will need to step his game up in the last few games on the season and this being his last game in Fayetteville, all Hog fans would like to see him break out a little and show why he has been in the backfield for 4 years.
The Arkansas offense will be without Trey Knox today. Without him to catch the Jones passes, Mike Woods, Treylon Burks, and TE Hudson Henry should be able to see significant targets. It is time for the hogs and Coach Morris to build for next year. 2019 brought a great freshman class. It is time to get them on the field and learn while you play. The season has not gone as coaches or fans have wanted this year, but that does not mean we have to fire coaches and get rid of everyone and start over again. Let’s get the freshman class out on the field and start the progressions for next year. There will be no bowl game for the Razorbacks this year which makes the Little Rock game against Missouri their bowl game and a trophy game for the hogs as well. With the thought of a winning out almost of the question going to Baton Rouge looming on November 23rd, after the last bye week of the season.
Arkansas is going to need a good game from their defense to have a chance with Ty Storey under center. Even though Storey left the program, he is still an Arkansas boy and would love nothing better than to come to Fayetteville and get a win against an SEC opponent. He knows the stadium and knows how loud it can be, so he is game prepped and ready. We will need our defense to come out with a fury and Coach Chavis to come out and prove he needs to stay. Blitz Storey and keep defenders in his face. If you give him time to sit back and get comfortable, he will end up picking apart this young defense and make them look silly. Agim will need to make his presence known early in the game giving the Hilltoppers O-Line. If they do not double team him early in the game, expect it to come before the game gets too far into the first half. With the double of Agim, Coach Chavis will need to send Bumper Pool and the rest of the thin linebacker core through the gaps causing Storey troubles in the pocket. This should give Kam Curl and the young secondary many chances to deflect passes and possible interceptions. Unfortunately for Ty, the defensive game plan is to make his homecoming to Fayetteville a nightmare he would never want to relive.
With Jones under center and Jefferson to show his potential, the Hog offense should finally have a little more efficiency, even without Knox to throw to. With it only being the 3rd win on the season, the Hogs should come out with a good game plan and find a way to win this game.
Western Kentucky 28, Arkansas Razorbacks 41
With the change in the QB position, the Hogs should come out early with more of a spark than we have seen all season. Jones and Jefferson lead the Hogs to their 3rd win on the season before the trip to Death Valley where all their skills will be tested. A good and well-deserved win for the Hogs on Senior Day on the Hill.
A special THANK YOU to all the Arkansas Razorback Seniors this year. It has been a tough run, but way to stay faithful to the Hogs. We as fans thank you for all that you have done in your time on the Hill. When your name gets put on the Senior Walk in Fayetteville, you will be forever a Hog. We wish you all the best of luck moving forward in whatever you do.
We will be with you in LR for your last game as an Arkansas Razorback, cheering everyone on the team on to a SEC victory at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock on Black Friday against the Missouri Tigers.
Your 2019-20 Seniors:
recently retired CJ O’Grad
Football Sports Writer for Natural State Sports
Co-Host of Thursday night live show “The Sports Junkies” along side Steve Hinson